August craze for Pakistani flag brings boom to otherwise dull business

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Model of Tome of Qaid-e-Azam (great leader) Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan, khyber Pass and Minar-e-Pakistan are displayed in Karachi as part of national independence day celebration. (AN photo)
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A girl looks at national flag on Tuesday ahead of Independence Day on August 14. Demand of national flags and related goods booms for the festivities. (AN photo)
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Children buy Pakistani flag from a vendor in old city area of Karachi ahead of celebration of independence day that fall on August 14. (AN photo)
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A Pakistani boy wears green and white hat depicting national flag. (AN Photo)
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A vendor displays Pakistani flag to attract customer ahead of Independence Day celebration as the business slows down. (AN Photo)
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Wearing green and white mask a vendor shows Pakistani flag at local wholesale market in Karachi on Tuesday. (AN Photo)
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A vendor blows trumpet to attract customers at a kiosk set up to sell flags and related material a head of 72ndIndependence Day of south Asian nation. (AN Photo)
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Children sift through badges and buntings to buy goods of their choice for Independence Day celebrations. (AN Photo)
Updated 14 August 2019

August craze for Pakistani flag brings boom to otherwise dull business

  • Pakistanis gear up for Independence Day celebrations amid slowing business activity
  • Eid ul Adha and torrential rains slowed down booming seasonal business, traders

KARACHI: As Pakistan gears up to celebrate its 73rd Independence Day on August 14 with traditional fervor, the business for traders selling national flag booms though not as much as previous years given the fact that Eid ul Adha related buying and torrential rains across the country have slowed down the otherwise booming seasonal business, traders say.
“The demand for national flags and decorative ornaments rises by 80 to 90 percent in the month of August mainly due to Independence Day celebrations,” Abdullah Abdul Habib, wholesale trader of Karachi’s paper market, told Arab News on Tuesday.
Every year, Independence Day related businesses activity mobilizes billions of rupees in revenue from sales and purchases of national flags, badges, hats, toys, special dresses with a touch of national flag and other decorative material, Habib told.
“This year, however, the business is almost down by 50 percent,” he added.
“The rains in the port city of Karachi which supplies goods to other part of the country disrupted Independence Day related business activities. Besides, concurrent event of Eid ul Adha also impacted the buying trend,” he said.
Pakistan meets 75 to 80 percent of its seasonal demand through imports that come from neighboring China. This year, the government’s measures to restrict imports in order to keep the balance of payment situation in control have also reduced the imports of flags and other decorative material.

A young girl shows star and fighter jet models painted with Pakistani flag. (AN photo)

“The imports this year were largely constrained and what we are selling is the leftover stock of previous year. Due to duties and taxes, the goods have almost become 40 percent costlier than last year,” said Habib.
According to the traders, the flags and badges are available for as low as PKR 10 where the price increases with the size of the flag or stickers available for the event.
Colorful kiosks and make-shift stalls traditionally mushroom in cities and towns of the country in August where traders take the chance to cash in on Independence Day celebrations.
Muhammad Shoaib, a trader who set up a kiosk in the old city area of Karachi, finds this year difficult amid slowing business. “Last year, the business was very good but this year it is very slow because of rains and bad weather condition,” he said.
Many traders complained of growing prices of goods and blamed the incumbent government for the rising inflation that hit 10.3 percent in July 2019.
“Thank God, it is going on but not as good as it was last year,” Sarfarz Ahmed, a stallholder, said while adding that “people are coming to the market and we will celebrate Independence Day as usual innsha Allah.”
“Business was good last year and the income for children was much better and we enjoyed Independence Day as well,” said Shaam Lal, a vendor in Karachi, showing new green bangles for girls. “This year we are worried about our children,” he added.

Laxman Das, a vendor, makes all out efforts to attract customers at a kiosk he set up to sell flags and toys for August 14 related celebrations.  (AN Photo)

Among those selling flags, badges, trumpets and other stuff for Independence Day festivities for the first time is Laxman Das and his “trumpets are much in demand this year.”
But Ali Zaib, another vendor, is happy as his stuff has almost entirely sold out. “Business is very good. I have sold almost all this (shirts with national flag) stuff. People are celebrating (the event) you will see on 14 august,” he said.
Citizens busy with Eid ul Adha related activities are now coming out for shopping at kiosks and stalls set up in different areas in the city. “I have come with my children as they wanted to buy flags and buntings and badges for the national day,” Yasir Ali, a teacher based in the metropolitan city of Karachi, commented. In addition to flags, toys painted with national flag are a major attraction among children, he added.
Pakistan that came into existence on August 14,1947 with the partition of Indian subcontinent, will observe its national day in solidarity with the People of Jammu and Kashmir following an attempted annexation of the disputed territory by Indian government with abrogation of Article 370.
“We are with Kashmiris and support their struggle for freedom,” Zafar Iqbal, a resident of Lahore said adding “this year we are also buying flags of Kashmir along with Pakistani national flag.”

India defends blocking politicians from visiting Kashmir

Updated 25 August 2019

India defends blocking politicians from visiting Kashmir

  • If everything is normal, asks opposition’s Rahul Gandhi, why are Congress leaders not allowed in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Hurriyat Conference has released its first official comment since the clampdown, calling for locals to resist New Delhi’s move 

NEW DELHI: Authorities on Sunday defended blocking opposition Indian politicians from visiting Muslim-majority Kashmir, saying it was to “avoid controversy” weeks after stripping the restive region of its autonomy and imposing a major clampdown.
India’s Hindu-nationalist government has been criticized by the main opposition Congress party over the contentious move on August 5 that brings Kashmir — which has waged an armed rebellion against Indian control since 1989 — under its direct rule.
The region remains under strict lockdown with movement limited and many phone and Internet services cut, although authorities say they have been easing restrictions gradually.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, still a key figure in India as a scion of the powerful Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, was earlier invited by local governor Satya Pal Malik to visit Kashmir.
But a video released by Congress showed Gandhi questioning officials about why he was stopped from entering Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar at the airport on Saturday.
“The governor has said I’m invited. He has invited me so I have come but you’re saying I can’t go,” he said.
“And the government is saying everything is OK, everything is normal. So if everything is normal, why are we not allowed out? It is a bit surprising.”
Regional police chief Dilbagh Singh told AFP police supported the decision.
“In an environment that is getting to normalcy, we didn’t want any controversial statement from anyone. That’s why they were asked to return from the airport itself,” Singh said.
Malik told the ANI news agency he invited Gandhi out of goodwill but that he then politicized the issue.
The controversy came as key separatist group Hurriyat Conference, a coalition of local political parties, released its first official comments since the clampdown and called for locals to “resist at this critical juncture” New Delhi’s move.
“Each and every person must face the naked Indian brutality with courage ... People should organize peaceful protests and demonstrations in their areas of residence,” top separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani said in a statement obtained by AFP.
The Hurriyat Conference, which supports Kashmir’s right to choose whether it wants to be part of India or Pakistan, added that Pakistan and the wider Muslim community should “come forward to ... help the besieged people.”
The call came as India’s home affairs ministry refuted a report by India’s News18 television on Sunday that the region was running out of lifesaving medicines, saying supplies were “slightly higher than the monthly average.”